And so we come to the end, both of this series of posts and of the lifecycle of a game. Forged by creators, its existence disseminated by journalists and its content discussed by critics, a game finally is experienced by players. In the literal sense, you all make this possible. Without you paying for our games, we couldn't afford to keep making them and would have to do something else.
But players have the ability to be even more important. The last thing I want is an audience that will shell out for whatever is placed in front of them. I want you all to keep challenging us (all of us, developers, journalists and critics alike) to push the boundaries. Don't be satisfied with tired rehashes of yesterday's successes; seek out and champion the weird, new things you like. And if a developer creates some new, strange thing you like, tell them. There's no better feeling in the world than hearing someone's reaction to a game you poured your heart and soul into.
Please, keep pushing us to do better. Encourage journalists to write more substantive, interesting pieces and tell them when you do. Find game critics who inspire you to think about games in surprising ways. And if you find something you connect with, champion it to friends, family, coworkers, anyone you know that also cares about games. The only way we're going to keep things moving forward and not settling in to a stagnant local maxima is to work together.
If there's one thing I'd love anyone passionate about games to do it is to step outside your comfort zone a little bit. Try to diversify your tastes a little. Find something that seems interesting, but you normally might pass up. Maybe play it with a friend and discuss what's interesting about it. And not just digital games, there's a whole world of fascinating board and card games out there.
Thanks to a friend, I've been sampling a crazy array of indie tabletop RPGs recently (there's a post related to those in the hopper). I've also been playing and loving the everliving hell out of the Battlestar Galactica board game. In both cases, not only has it planted all kinds of seeds in the idea soil of my brain, but it's also been a great reminder that games are fundamentally social experiences. Even if we're engaging with a single-player game, discussing it with others can enrich that experience by putting it in a larger context. And that community of players might be the best thing games have going for them.
Take away the anonymity of the internet, and "gamers" (I find that categorization bizarre, but you all know what I mean) are almost universally great people. I have been to every Penny Arcade Expo (west coast, anyway) save the first, and I'm still consistently amazed by what a positive experience it is. The enthusiasm and sheer good will is great. That same energy appears at game jams; I certainly saw plenty manifest over the weekend, along with some very cool games. There's something about games that sets a certain spark alight, and I'd love to see us keep channeling that in the right direction.
Thank you all for making what we do possible. And thanks for indulging in these last four ramblings. It's not the most eloquent stuff I've ever put together, but it's something I've been thinking about for a while and want to get out in some form or another. But it really comes down to just this:
I make games because there are things I want to say, but without you all, there would be no one to listen. Thank you for listening.
Labels: What We Do Matters